The Way - Day 097 (Mark 6)

Daily Reading:
Mark 6
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
Jesus sent the 12 and told them to take what with them?  What do you think this was meant to demonstrate and in whose kingdom were the 12 now operating in?
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 33:4-5
OPTION 2: Proverbs 14:34
OPTION 3: Matthew 5:40-42
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for Mark 6 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
Mark 6:1-13, 30-31
In the first six verses of Mark 6, Jesus and His disciples return to His hometown of Nazareth where He begins teaching on the Sabbath (6:1-2a). Those who heard Him teach were "astonished" and said, "Where did this man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?" It is evident by the people's reaction that they did not view Jesus as the Son of God and Mark even records that "they were offended at Him" (6:3). The fact that they were offended carries the idea of repelling or rejecting Jesus' message. They viewed Jesus as no more than a carpenter's Son, who did not have an extravagant education or a religious title. Jesus knew that "He could do no mighty work there, except He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them" (6:5). Mark then records that Jesus "marveled because of their unbelief." Being rejected by your own people is a discouraging thing, but we find Jesus continuing His ministry going "about the villages in a circuit, teaching" (6:6). Jesus had every right to quit; after all, no one in His own town wanted to hear what He said. However, He knew His mission and He was determined to finish the will of His Father, even though He experienced opposition.

Jesus calls His disciples and sends them out "two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits" (6:7). He commanded the disciples to only take what they needed for the journey and provided instructions for their ministry in each town (6:8-11). "So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them" (6:12-13). Eventually the disciples returned and "told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught" (6:30). Jesus then told them to take some time to rest (6:31).
There are many obstacles we face in everyday life and some of them cause thoughts of quitting to come into our minds. In the passage we examined today, Jesus was our example of someone who continued His ministry, even when it was not popular. He was confident of what His Father wanted Him to do, so He willingly carried it out in the face of opposition. That same determination should characterize our lives as we surrender ourselves to accomplish the will of God. One of Jesus' final commands to His disciples after His resurrection was that they were to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you..." (Matthew 28:18-20). We have been give this same commission and even in the face of opposition we should be determined to continue in God's will.

Mark 6:14-29
King Herod had heard about the miraculous works of Jesus throughout the region and believed that John the Baptist, the one who called people to repentance and faith before Jesus' arrival, may have risen from the grave and was who the people were really talking about (6:14-16). Herod, the King of Israel, had beheaded John the Baptist and here Mark recounts the details of his death. It seems that Herod actually respected and even feared John the Baptist (6:20), but had sentenced him to prison for his own protection. John had apparently confronted Herod about the incestuous relationship he was involved in with his brother's wife, Herodias. Herod had married Herodias and John told him that "it is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife" (6:18). Herodias became angry and "held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not...(6:19). Again, Herod knew that John was "a just and holy man" so he protected him by throwing him into prison.
Mark then documents what happened following John's imprisonment: "then an opportune day came when Herod on his birthday gave a feast...and when Herodias' daughter herself came in and danced, and pleased Herod and those who sat with him, the king said to the girl, 'Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you'" (6:21-22). Salome, Herodias' daughter, returned to her mother to ask her what she should receive from King Herod. Herodias immediately responded by asking for John the Baptist to be beheaded (6:24-25). Salome returned to Herod and told him her request and he sorrowfully granted it to be done (6:26-29).

I believe this story is very applicable to our lives. Those with whom we associate with can sometimes cause us to do things which are evil. From all of the gospel accounts of John's beheading, it seems as if Herod did not want to kill him. It was only because of his associations with wicked people that he was pressured into doing wrong. Ultimately the choice was still his, but the demands of others caused him to act in a way contrary to what I believe he really wanted to do - protect John the Baptist. We must guard our friendships and associations so that we do not open ourselves up to possible sin. I am not implying that we shut ourselves off from the outside world, but that we should diligently use wisdom in who influences us. Take some time today to examine your friendships or relationships.

Mark 6:32-44
This particular story of the feeding of the five thousand is recorded in all four gospel accounts and in my opinion makes it significant. If all four writers thought this scenario was important to include in their writing, how much more should we also search for its relevance in our lives? Mark account begins by revealing that Jesus and His disciples "departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. But the multitudes saw then departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him" (6:32-33). When Jesus got out of the boat, He saw all these people who had run ahead of him (probably about 8 miles). Instead of being annoyed with the constant attention, Jesus "was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things" (6:34). I believe Jesus' reaction to the multitudes should be the focus of this particular incident. Sure, Jesus goes on to do something miraculous by using five loaves of bread and two fish to feed approximately 20,000 people (including women and children). It is mind-boggling to think about the tremendous miracle of Jesus multiplying the small amount of food in order to be enough to feed everyone (6:35-44), but the real issue is why Jesus did this miracle. The issue is not the physical feeding, although Jesus thought that was important, but the spiritual feeding. When Mark writes that Jesus was "moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd" he is insinuating that Jesus is extremely concerned about their spiritual condition. As He looked at the multitude, He saw many who needed the forgiveness of sin and spiritual guidance. Jesus knew that His forthcoming death on the cross and resurrection would free mankind from the bondage of sin. He alone desired to be the Shepherd who would guide the lost and hopeless out of their darkness into His light. He desired that everyone would be able to have a relationship with God through His sacrifice on the cross.

I believe it is imperative that we also evidence the same compassion for those who are lost, hopeless, and in need of God. We must point them to Jesus Christ whom the Apostle Paul says is able bring those "who were once far off...near by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13). Sometimes we can all get frustrated by the constant needs of the people around us, but we must remember the example of Jesus. He saw beyond their physical needs in order to meet the real need - a change of heart through repentance and faith.
Mark 6:45-56
Immediately following His feeding of the five thousand men (approximately 20,000 people total), Jesus sends His disciples away to Bethsaida by boat. Jesus stays behind to pray (6:46). When evening came, the disciples encountered a storm on the Sea of Galilee and they were having a hard time rowing because the "wind was against them" (6:48) and Matthew adds that their boat was being tossed by the waves (Matthew 14:24). Mark indicates that the wind had carried the disciples' boat to the middle of the sea while Jesus was still on land (6:47). I have no doubt that they were fearing for their lives at this point. A turn of events happens when Jesus "saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night [3-6am] He came to them, walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were troubled" (6:48-50). Jesus recognizes their fear and says, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid" (6:50). It is hard to blame the disciples for their fear, but they should have understood that Jesus possessed power over all things since He was truly God. As He had just feed thousands of people with only five loaves of bread and two fish (6:32-44), Jesus also had control over nature. In essence, Jesus was testing the faith of His closest followers. Did they believe He could deliver them out of any trial or difficulty? Jesus steps from the raging sea into the boat of the disciples and the wind ceases (6:51). The disciples "were greatly amazed in themselves and marveled" (6:51b). But then Mark adds these words to the commentary about the disciples' reaction: "For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened" (6:52).
In reading this story we are quick to criticize the disciples' lack of faith in Jesus, but we are also very guilty of failing to see the potential power of God in various circumstances of life. We doubt, question, and contemplate whether Jesus is who He says He is when difficulty comes our way. The key in understanding this passage is to look beyond the miracle itself to see the character of the One behind the supernatural. If God has power over all things, He is capable of handling all adversity. This does not mean He will always remove the hardship, but He will provide the strength to handle it. We often find ourselves in the boat of life getting tossed around from every side, but Jesus is never too far away to whisper over the sound of the waves, "Be of good cheer! it is I; do not be afraid."

Dear God, help me to see that You have power over all things and may I practice faith in Your everlasting control.